SAN ANTONIO – There are now small signs of progress for a pilot program launched by San Antonio District 1 this summer in the Dellview community at Vance Jackson and I-10 to deal with the homeless population.
Shannon St. Cyr, an area resident of 50 years, said the homeless population has taken over her neighborhood and nearby shopping centers in recent years.
“I don’t want to go over there,” she said about the nearby Walmart shopping area. “They very aggressively panhandle. If you don’t give them money, they yell at you.”
St. Cyr said she’s afraid to even step outside her home, where she has seen individuals trespass into her yard.
“We pay our taxes. We are law-abiding citizens. We do what we’re supposed to do. We should be able to live without fear,” St. Cyr said.
St. Cyr is active in her community and city council, but she doesn’t really know the answer to fix the problem, only that it’s not getting better.
“This has been five years in the making,” she said about the homeless population in the area. “If it would have been nipped in the bud, it would not be out of control like this.”
This summer, District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino launched CAUSE, the Collaborative Action Unifying Safe Environments Outreach Initiative. The pilot program brings San Antonio police, city services, Solid Waste Management and nonprofits to the streets where they work with homeless individuals to guide them toward services.
Jamie Nicholson, a social services student at Our Lady of the Lake University, has been on the ground with the team working on a long-term solution.
“Each person is an individual, and it’s each person’s situation,” Nicholson said.” This wouldn’t be a one size fits all type of an approach.”
Nicholson said there needs to be empathy and humanity to fix the problem. But she understands the frustration homeowners have.
“It’s just going to take some patience and understanding that it’s going to be a long process,” she said. “But we are seeing immediate results.”
The city says 30 individuals have been connected to services.
Trevino told the city council last week that the problem cannot be arrested away.
“We’re setting the right tone. Bottom line is, when it comes to homelessness, these are people in crisis, and the impact of helping them where their needs are is so critical.”
The city said the top need for many individuals is help to get identification cards and mental health services. The city is considering expanding similar outreach groups to all San Antonio districts as the Department of Human Services Homeless Street Outreach Team. The plans are being included in the upcoming budget.
On Thursday, District 8 will host a Homelessness Virtual Town Hall from 5:30 - 7 p.m. The panel will include SAPD SAFFE officers, Haven for Hope and City of San Antonio Department of Human Services.